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Chang Chang restaurant evaluate: Peter Chang’s DC debut is definitely worth the wait


Pichet Ong is a human ping-pong ball, bouncing from one desk to a different on the new Chang Chang in Dupont Circle. One second, he is telling a bunch of diners that the ribs they’re consuming are widespread in Shanghai. One other, he is at my desk, introducing pals and me to some of the extravagant duck preparations wherever. Finest identified regionally as a pastry chef however a veteran of kitchens across the nation, Ong could be the most overqualified server in Washington.

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If it’s important to ask in regards to the restaurant’s title, you are most likely new to the meals scene. Chang Chang references the esteemed chef Peter Chang, 59, and appears to the long run by acknowledging the enter of his daughter, co-owner Lydia Chang. Chang Chang follows normal bearers Mama Chang in Fairfax, named partly for household matriarch Lisa, additionally a chef, and Q by Peter Chang in Bethesda in an empire that has grown to 12 eating rooms within the Mid-Atlantic and one in Stamford, Conn.

The household’s newest restaurant opened in October, initially providing simply takeout — and from that second, town’s finest to-go Chinese language, an admittedly low bar however joyous prevalence. The hen in an order of roaring kung pao is just not solely plentiful, it tastes clearly of itself; shopping for free-range Inexperienced Circle hen from D’Artagnan helps. Pearly jumbo shrimp topped with glistening snow peas and asparagus — briefly blanched, then completed in a wok — stability pink with inexperienced, gentle with crisp, candy surf with a light-weight wash of hen inventory and egg white. Despatched out in cartons, this meals deserves reward wrap. Okay, the dry-fried cauliflower droops by the point its lid is eliminated at residence, however the seasoning is the blast furnace followers count on.

What took the Changs so lengthy to open within the District? Ong factors to the house owners’ loyal suburban followers, who eat early, present up in teams and like eating places with parking tons. “DC is not arrange for that,” says Ong. Even so, Chang Chang is packing ’em in. Lunch, that includes the identical dishes as on the “Chang Out” (takeout) listing, offers a fantastic excuse for close by employees to return to the workplace. Dinner, showingcasing extra elaborate preparations, gathers what Ong calls “the enjoyable crowd” and Lydia Chang, 35, tags as “foodies.”

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A lot as I like grazing on the Changs’ best hits at residence, together with mapo tofu and bamboo fish, I really like the fun of the brand new within the eating room, the place the wide-ranging menu, dubbed “Chang In,” is damaged into classes : bites, small plates, greens, giant plates, and many others. Revered as Peter Chang is for his Sichuan creations of him, “he is stressed,” says his daughter of him, ever wanting to open new locations to eat and provide dishes that transcend what the grasp is understood for.

No different Chang restaurant serves pig terrine, as an illustration. The “chunk” is definitely seven squares of pork original from braised pork toes and shoulder, topped with aspic and garnished with crisp watermelon radishes and Asian pear. Drizzled with a stinging unhealthy French dressing, the dish makes Canton style shut.

Reverse in each method, but additionally luscious, are spring rolls full of dried and recent shiitakes, hen of the woods and oyster mushrooms — a forest of fungi and vermicelli bundled in crisp pastry and accompanied by an emulsion of Chinese language vinegar, ginger, garlic and white pepper designed as a nod to the Worcestershire sauce favored by Hong Kong diners. Head chef Simon Lam, 33, plucked from NiHao in Baltimore and of Chinese language-Vietnamese descent, had the neat concept to supply lettuce wraps, permitting diners to guard their fingers from the piping sizzling cigars earlier than plunging them in what’s billed as wo sauce. (Higher nonetheless: minty shiso leaves for wrapping the kitchen’s crisp-edged sliced ​​pork stomach.) One other vegetable to recollect stars eggplant, tossed in a wok with fermented soy beans and chiles to make every thing smoky, and organized in its bowl with scallions and what seem like white clouds however are in truth tufts of tofu foam. Some prefer it sizzling—and chilly. Enter the eggplant-tofu duo.

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“I really like sugar,” says Ong, the expertise behind the walnut prawns, which keep away from the same old cloying glop. Marinated in wine, the seafood is calmly battered, fried and glazed with condensed milk, orange juice and chopped walnuts. The end result: a velvet coat for scrumptious shrimp.

Changians, as devotees of the chef are identified, would possibly spot a well-known title or two on the menu, however likelihood is, they’re enhanced variations of earlier recipes. This is our outdated buddy, cumin lamb chop, its kick prolonged with turmeric, coriander and black cardamom, and the way nice that the lamb is propped up by kabocha squash and lemony yogurt. Lisa Chang, 61, is synonymous with the blimp-like scallion bubble pancake she originated in her native China 30 or so years in the past. At Chang Chang, the spectacle, swollen with steam, floats by way of the eating room atop a treasure of scallops, prawns and fish balls in a golden curry, an Ong contact. (As soon as pierced and deflated, the bread makes a sensational mop for the zesty sauce he thought so as to add.)

Do your self in favor and request the duck “4 methods” the second you sit down. The dish is fired to order and takes 45 minutes to get to the desk.

No offense to the platter of duck, roasted low and sluggish to a fantastic rose coloration, however the remainder of the feast consumes my consideration. Do not misunderstand; the sliced ​​duck, aged for 3 days earlier than it is smoked with cedar and tea and massaged with five-spice and different enhancers, is a testomony to succulence. Sip the broth that glides to the desk, although, and also you’re apt to swoon within the wake of ginger, onion and the sundry smoked duck components which might be as restorative as a stroll in autumn woods. (The foie gras dumpling within the cup is nearly superfluous.) Break into the close by phyllo-wrapped pie, sprinkled with carrot high powder, full of black forbidden rice and shredded duck confit, and marvel on the method Ong, its creator, combines cultures and cuisines. The pie bows to each biryani and bastille. The $120 price ticket would possibly scare you off; take into account that the unfold, together with a crackling spiced duck wing, is loads for six (and any leftover sliced ​​duck makes for excellent next-day sandwiches).

One of many attracts on the late Brothers and Sisters within the Line lodge was the dessert listing by Ong, particularly his whimsical, dome-shaped desserts. The pastry chef prides himself on not repeating recipes, so no dome desserts at Chang Chang. But his newest creations of him are not any much less ravishing. You have by no means had chevre cheesecake like Ong’s, all goodness and lightweight, constructed with lemon sponge cake and all however hidden beneath sheer slices of plum. Then there is a yellow dagger of ardour fruit pie — the pucker you need after a lavish meal — garnished with pepper-spiked meringue wands. Full as chances are you’ll be, request a cookie plate, if solely to expertise the affinity heat chocolate has with sizzling chiles.

All of it sounds fantastic. Right here and there, nonetheless, slips present.

Shrimp toast tastes as if the appetizer flew in from China — the flavour is spot on, however the texture is soggy. Braised ribs lean candy on the expense of bitter. Lydia Chang says she likes a minimalist house. However the eating room at Chang Chang is just too spare for my style, dressed with little greater than some huge spherical tables up entrance and alcove seating farther again. It is as if the house owners are counting on “the enjoyable crowd” to enliven the restaurant at evening.

And they also do, aided and abetted by Peter Chang. Regardless of his standing, he has no drawback ferrying luggage of takeout to the entrance and sometimes stopping to smile at his seated viewers. Identical for the nonstop, all over the place pastry chef. Who knew one of many metropolis’s finest tour guides is working at one among Washington’s most thrilling new eating places?

1200 nineteenth St. NW. 202-570-0946. Open: Indoor eating for lunch 11:30 am to 2:30 pm Monday by way of Friday and 11:30 am to three:30 pm Saturday and Sunday; for dinner 5 to 10 pm Monday by way of Thursday, 5 to 11 pm Friday and Saturday, 5 to 9 pm Sunday. Takeout hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day. Costs: Small plates $16 to $25, giant plates $26 to $120 (for shareable duck 4 methods). Sound test: 75 decibels/Should communicate with raised voice. Accessibility: No limitations at entrance; ADA-compliant restrooms. Pandemic protocols: Masks for employees are non-obligatory; all employees are vaccinated.

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